TIME COMMANDERS again, another the-past-is-a-v.-v.-foreign-country moment: Hittites vs Egyptians, the Battle of Qadesh. “This is before the Greek idea,” says my pal Aryk blithely, “of battles having a winner and a loser.” THOSE WACKY GREEKS!!
3 November 2003
Sunday mornings are a dry time for me televisually. The behemoth that is Hollyoaks has never suckered me in, and the other channels diet of Christian God bothering and non-specific deity bothering bothers me not. And running and hiding from Sunday Homes & Gardens (a Lawrence Lllewelyn-Bowen front clip shop of Changing Rooms with Carol Smilie exorcised out) I ended up on the liferaft that was Channel Five. And a pair of youngsters running away from and adult and being very sulky.
Hold up I thought. What’s this. I recognise this style. Indeed I did: over the next half an hour I was confronted with a non-stop adventure about some form of child time traveling robot, his mistress, some sulky boy from the 20th Century and some gubbins about Dick Turpin actually being a fourteen year old girl. According to this show, much of the eighteenth century was entirely run by fourteen year old stage school kids. And the moral, time-traveling without due care or attention is really rather dangerous. The program was Morris 2274 , and the style was Daniel Peacock’s.
Peacock is the member of the Comic Strip that people remember even less than sulky Peter Richardson. Recently he has concentrated his output on writing and producing kids shows. These include Harry And Cosh, Channel Five’s cross between Ally McBeal and Grange Hill, and Cavegirl - a feminist, stage school version of 10 Million Years BC. All are characterised by devilishly fast non-sequitur editing, heavy on the sight gags and a fifteen year old cast who it is assumed are able to take on almost any role. Many a Saturday afternoon has been spent trying to work out what the hell was going on in Harry And Cosh. Morris 2274, on the one viewing yesterday, should be even more confusing.
(The actual plot, according to the intro is as follows. It is the year 2274. All children have a Morris, a robot tutor cum protector cum policeman. Except Billie’s Morris has gone wrong and allows her to anarchically run around in time for no reason other than dressing up purposes. It is surprising funny.)
“Fox-elves cut off the people’s hair” – History of the Wei Dynasty, AD 477: The Fortean Times is 30 years old this month, and has a special commemorative supplement to celebrate. On the whole, they’re more likely to cover fish-falls than string theory, but that aside I can’t think of a mag which as a matter of habit hews closer to Geeta’s “science-as-punk” line, esp.as regards coverage of curiosities, wonders and anomalies overlooked and/or disallowed by academic dogma (or even common sense). “Exposing belief based on poor reasoning and research is qualitatively different from rubbishing subjects simply out of taste or disapproval,” they write in the supplement’s editorial: “It is useful to remember that our perceptions are more sensitive than we would guess, more easily manipulated than we would imagine and less objective than we would hope.” Ideas prosper – in politics, in science, anywhere – NOT because they’re correct or clever, but simply* because they generate the right social energy at the time they appear.** Cheerfully poking fun at bad logic AND bad scepticism, the FT provides a monthly map of some of those energies: “Nonsense (when all is said and done) is still nonsense,” a wise man said once. “But the study of nonsense, that is science.”
**(Yes yes being clever and being correct sometimes DO generate this energy in scienceworld: and sometimes they don’t…)